The University of Newcastle, Australia

Encouraging Excellence Among Aspiring Engineers

Monday, 8 April 2019

The Catherine and Peter Tay High Achiever Engineering Undergraduate Scholarship

We first introduced you to Jodie Cochrane, the inaugural recipient of the Catherine and Peter Tay High Achiever Engineering Undergraduate Scholarship, in 2014 as an eager first year student determined to make her mark in the Australian engineering industry (see image below). Three years later, she was awarded a New Colombo Plan scholarship and the chance to intern in Singapore. Since then she has graduated with a double degree in mathematics and electrical engineering, and has already undertaken an internship with CSIRO. Jodie is now commencing a PhD at the University of Newcastle.

“I am excited to be starting my PhD. I will apply Bayesian machine-learning techniques to the development of a prediction tool which will assist doctors when deciding on the best recovery pathway for knee surgery patients. That brings together the electrical engineering and mathematical skills I have learned during my degrees and applies them to medicine – an area of practical problem-solving that I never realised electrical engineering could take me”, said Jodie.

Excellence scholarships like the Catherine and Peter Tay High Achiever Engineering Undergraduate Scholarship encourage outstanding scholars to achieve high results. The intention is that as student role models, they help improve the quality of the entire cohort; who go on to become high achieving researchers, mentors, teachers and industry partners.

This multiplier effect is certainly in action with Jodie. She recently presented her undergraduate project at the prestigious Robust Control Design conference in Brazil – a unique achievement for an undergraduate student – and was teaching first year engineering lectures in her fifth year.

"I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have had through the University of Newcastle, and all the support I have received from Peter and Catherine. I have been able to realise where my strengths and interests lie, and am really looking forward to seeing what I can do next!" - Jodie Cochrane, Bachelor of Mathematics 2018, Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Electrical) 2018

"Jodie is talented, hard-working and, above all, passionate about solving some of the world’s problems through engineering solutions. She is an excellent role model – in terms of her studies and also as an exemplar of the important and exciting work outstanding engineers can go on to do." - Professor Brett Ninness (PhD (Electrical and Computer Engineering 1994; Master of Engineering 1991; Bachelor of Engineering 1987)
Pro-Vice Chancellor, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment

Mrs Catherine Tay, Jodie Cochrane and Dr Peter TayDr Peter Tay achieved a double degree in industrial engineering and economics from the University of Newcastle through a Colombo Plan Scholarship from the Australian Government. He credits this start in his education as being a significant catalyst for his life-long achievements since.

Peter and his wife, Catherine, kindly established the Catherine and Peter Tay High Achiever Engineering Undergraduate Scholarship in 2013 as a drawcard to attract outstanding students to the University of Newcastle.

"Catherine and I decided to create this scholarship because we are so grateful for the opportunities I had. I am a proud alumnus of the University of Newcastle and my wife and I will do everything we can to help the students and University excel on the world stage."- Dr Peter Tay Buan Huat (Honorary Degree - Doctor of Engineering 2015; Bachelor of Arts (Economics) 1973; Bachelor of Engineering (Industrial) 1972)

The Catherine and Peter Tay High Achiever Engineering Undergraduate Scholarship is offered to the highest ranked commencing student in a Bachelor degree in the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, each recipient obtaining an ATAR score of more than 99. The generous scholarship provides support for the students for the duration of their whole degree meaning that, at any one time, there can be up to five outstanding students benefiting from assistance through this scholarship.

Having seen the positive impact of the scholarship on both the individual students awarded and on  the Faculty as a whole, Catherine and Peter have decided to extend their support to students like Jodie until 2030.

For a free guide to helping students achieve their potential through scholarships, contact Leanne Innes on 02 4921 8612 or email

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